The wind rushed through Gwen’s hair as she fell. With a fluid, practiced movement, she pulled up her grapnel gun, sighted, and pulled the trigger. The line shot through the night air. In an instant, the hook caught its target and the line pulled taut.
Gwen grabbed hold of the gun with both hands and swung forward with her momentum. Building windows whipped past. At the height of her swing, the hook snapped itself loose and the rope began to retract rapidly. She continued to fly upward, until she flew over the roof of the building. She landed on the roof in a crouch, making no more noise than a gust of wind.
Gwen clipped the grapnel gun back to her belt as she strode to the opposite edge. There, fifty feet down, was her target: Warehouse 10.
The warehouse belonged to Bartolo “The Breaker” Esposito. Thirty percent of the city’s illegal goods passed through this warehouse. And she was going to raid it.
Arms pressed to her sides, Gwen drew a deep breath, then leapt off the precipice. She fell a few feet, then pried her arms off her body. Thin, but strong fabric stretched between her arms and body, attached to her suit through magnets and some complex computer coding. She used the wings to turn her fall into a controlled dive as she aimed for one of the large windows in the roof of the warehouse.
A few feet above the window, Gwen swung her legs underneath her. Her heavy boots slammed into the glass, causing it to shatter and rain to the floor.
Gwen dropped with it, but halfway down, she snapped open her wings again and her descent slowed. She again landed in a crouch. In one slow, deliberate movement, she drew herself to her full height. All around her were mobsters, frozen in the midst of activity.
A quick scan of the room showed her that none of the mobsters were armed.
They’re certainly making this easy for me, she thought.
One stepped forward, his arms spread in an inviting gesture.
“Bluejay,” he called. “How nice of you to, heh, drop in!”
Bluejay didn’t respond.
“Listen,” the mobster continued “Not that I don’t appreciate your visit, but where’s your boss?”
“I could ask you the same thing, Rossi,” Bluejay answered coldly. “Esposito home sick?”
Rossi shook his head. “The Breaker don’t do day-to-day business.”
“Shame,” the vigilante replied. “Guess I’ll have to settle for you.”
The cocky grin faded from Rossi’s face. “Get her, boys!” he barked.
Four of the grunts immediately ran toward her. The first to reach her swung his right fist in a roundhouse punch. She caught it with her left, then jabbed at his face with her right. Once, twice. The goon fell.
The next one leapt at her. She rolled beneath his feet, taking herself into a neat front hand spring. She sailed into the third goon, knocking him to the floor. The final two mobsters rushed her. She took out one with a swift kick to the kneecap, then punched the final man in the jaw, sending him to the floor.
Above her on a catwalk, one of the smarter mobsters wast trying to get one of the giant automatic rifles from a crate.
Bluejay drew, sighted, and fired her grapnel gun. In an instant, the line drew her up toward the man. She twisted midair, sending herself feet first into the man’s side. He crumpled to the catwalk.
Further along the platform, one goon had managed to fumble a gun into his hands. He twisted toward the terrifying figure and squeezed the trigger. The gun kicked and the bullets sprayed wildly.
Bluejay heard the gunfire and launched herself back to the floor. She rolled to absorb the landing. The majority of the thugs had now armed themselves, either with crowbars and bats or with some sort of firearm.
Bluejay reached behind her back for the metal cylinder she knew rested there. With a quick squeeze, the cylinder shot to its full six-foot length.
Bluejay brandished her weapon. No one moved. Then Rossi shouted from the other side of the warehouse “C’mon, you idiots! It’s just one girl with a stick!”
The mobsters still didn’t move. They knew more than a few guys that had ended up in a hospital for weeks because of that “girl with a stick.”
“Get her now!” Rossi screamed. Propelled by their boss the mobsters on the floor began to surge forward, while the few on the catwalk sighted their guns.
Bluejay prepared herself. Despite the odds, she wasn’t scared.
Then another of the giant windows shattered. A shadow fell over one of the mobsters with a gun.
“Holy crap!” the man screamed. Then he went down. The newcomer rose to face the mobsters. The Condor had arrived.
“It’s him!” one goon whispered.
“The Bird!” another muttered.
Dad, Bluejay thought.
Without a word, Condor leapt from the catwalk, his cape trailing behind him. Then the warehouse erupted into chaos.
Bluejay spun and twisted and leapt through the fray. Her staff slammed into jaws, elbows, knees, hips and any other exposed body part. Occasionally she saw her father, throwing punches and mobsters in equal measure, sometimes flinging one of his razor-sharp projectiles that Bluejay had dubbed “wingers.”
In a matter of minutes, the battle was over. Only the two vigilantes were left standing. The unconscious forms of tens of mobsters arrayed around them.
Both were unharmed. Neither were even breathing heavily, but Condor still asked: “Are you hurt?”
“No, I’m fine,” Bluejay answered.
“You shouldn’t have come here alone,” Condor admonished her.
“I had the situation under control!”
“Oh, really? Is that why you were surrounded with guns trained on you?”
“I was fine!”
“You most certainly were not fine! If I hadn’t gotten here when I did – ” Condor stopped, a grim look on his face. “I didn’t want to bring it up under these circumstances, but it seems I have no choice. There is a school –”
“Okay, seriously?” Gwen interrupted. “I act out once and you ship me off to boarding school?”
“Let me finish!” her father snapped.
“What school is it? St. Mary’s School for Young Women? St. Margaret’s College Prep?” Gwen taunted.
“The Academy of Super Heroes,” her father replied, annoyed.
“Ooooh, I get it.” Gwen said “You don’t think I’m ready for the big leagues, so you’re sending me to study up with all the other little wanna-be sidekicks.”
“That’s not what it is at all,” He answered, “I’m trying to give you an advantage I never had when I was training.”
“Wow, that’s a little cliché even for you.”
“Bluejay, I am your father, and my word is final.”
“Seriously, did you watch like six crappy teen movies before patrol?”
“Why is it always an argument?!”
“Because you can’t have a conversation unless you’re yelling at me!”
“That’s it! Return to the nest immediately, you’re on probation until you leave for the Academy,” Condor barked.
“Seriously?!” Bluejay replied.
“Nest. Now,” Condor affirmed.
Without another word, Bluejay drew, sighted, and fired her grapnel gun. In an instant, she was racing home through the night air.